Don’t Automatically Make Automatic Actions

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Every poker player who competes in the online poker rooms has used them, the little boxes that allow you to automatically dictate what action you will take before play comes around to you. This way you can check the box or click the button that will fold your hand to any bet as you just don’t want to play the horrible hand you have been dealt. Or when you’re in a multi-way pot in late position you hit the button to automatically check on your turn when you are drawing and want to see another card, but have no intention of putting any more money into the pot. Being able to take such actions automatically can be handy, but it can also be dangerous as you may miss opportunities to miss some chips.

Poker is about the players more so than the cards. For instance, say you are on the button and are dealt 7-2 offsuit. Your first temptation is going to be to check the box to automatically fold your hand when the action comes to you and then go back to the sports article you were reading or the game of solitaire you were playing or even just back to staring at the computer screen, whatever you do when you are not actively involved in the hand. While automatically folding here will not harm you and will usually be a correct decision, what if action is folded all the way around to you on the button? Then you would have a choice of whether or not to try and steal the blinds. If you automatically folded here you would not get the chance, whereas if you wait to see what happens ahead of you then you can try and pick up a few chips.

In another example of automatic folding, say you are dealt 5-3 suited in late position. There are several limpers ahead of you and all of a sudden, the notion of playing such a weak hand gets considerably better as you now have excellent pot odds to make such a call. Although I would probably still fold in this situation I would prefer to think this decision through instead of having my hand hit the muck the instant action comes to me.

The above situations both involved automatically folding, so let’s switch our focus to Limit Holdem and the automatic raise buttons. Say you are dealt pocket aces and raise from early position. Two players behind you call and action is subsequently folded to the player on the button, who makes a reraise. You are going to cap with your aces, so you check the raise any button as you know you will raise. Action comes to you and your raise goes in. You have just let your opponents know that you were going to raise no matter what and must be holding a very strong hand.

This is a place where there is some opportunity for deception. As you were the original raiser the possibility exists that you are not holding a premium hand, despite the raise you made from early position. By sitting back and letting a few seconds tick off the clock you can create the illusion that you were considering just calling or even folding, and the illusion may help convince the other players that you are not holding an overwhelming hand but can be beaten, thereby enticing more of their chips into the pot. By automatically raising you may scare out the two players who called in between your original raise and the reraise on the button. The players may be willing to throw in one additional bet, bet they will certainly be more hesitant to throw in two additional bets after your show of strength. Automatically raising removes the possibility of deception and could cost you some chips. While your pocket aces may end up losing to another hand, you do want to get as many chips into the pot as possible while you are holding the best hand.

These are just a few examples of how automatically taking an action may not be the best idea. There are times to take automatic actions, the most obvious being when a player in early position moves all-in, but you should consider if taking the automatic action is correct or whether you should wait until it is your turn to act. An extra moment of consideration can help you pick up a few more chips than you would if you act too soon.

The next time you play, take just a short pause each time you are about to perform an automatic action to review the situation. Poker is a game about people, logic, and instinct, and you will want to make sure you are playing against the other players with both logic and instinct.

One Response to “Don’t Automatically Make Automatic Actions”

  1. john

    Automatic checking is like shouting “hey I have a weak hand”, usually people autocheck when they got 4 cards for a flush and want to get the 5th one. Of course this is a big no.
    Automatic folding however is never a problem. Sure, don’t do it when you’re on the button, that’s just one out of every 10 plays. The rest of the time, especially if more people do it, it turns the action over to the next guy much faster, which means he has less time to make a decision.


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